Merriam-Webster Added 455 New Words to the Dictionary in October, Including "Air Fryer" and "Horchata"

Online communication, coronavirus, food, technology, and pop culture inspired many of the hundreds of words added to the dictionary last month.

Whether it's a new slang term for "hello" or the name of a commonly used kitchen appliance, language is constantly advancing and news words are added to our collective lexicon daily. This nonstop evolution is reflected by the yearly expansion of the dictionary in which words that have shown extensive and established use are added. According to the lexicographers working at Merriam-Webster, 455 new and likely familiar words were added to the glossary in October of this year, encompassing everything from "air fryer" to "dad bod."

There are plenty of ways we acquire new words—current events, text messaging, and advances in technology among them. However, one of the most common modes is through culinary developments. According to Merriam-Webster's website, many new food terms come from the cuisines of cultures that speak a language other than English, but this batch features a great deal of American terms, along with new ways of cooking and organizing food preparation. Perhaps the most well-known term of the bunch is "air fryer," a must-have kitchen appliance that has captured the hearts (and kitchens!) of many home cooks in the past few years. The relatively new cooking device has officially been added to the dictionary as an "airtight, usually small electrical appliance for quick cooking of foods by means of convection currents circulated rapidly by a fan." Other culinary words that received entries include: "fluffernutter," "horchata," "chicharron," "goetta," and "ghost kitchen."

two opened dictionary on wood table
Mitshu / Getty Images

A few of the new additions are inspired by terms and phrases commonly used throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Words like "super-spreader," "breakthrough," and "vaccine passport" have been added to the dictionary. Some words that aren't directly related to, but are a societal result of the pandemic, have warranted their own entries, too. For example, "digital nomad"—someone who performs their occupation entirely over the Internet while traveling—has been added to the dictionary as the pandemic has forced many into remote work.

Text messaging has completely altered the way we communicate and speak, so of course a few abbreviated expressions were added to the glossary this year. The abridged version of 'to be honest,' or "TBH" received an entry, as did "FTW" (for the win), and "amirite" (am I right). In the same vein as texting, there were a few pop-culture inspired words added to the dictionary. For example, "dad bod," meaning "a physique regarded as typical of an average father" was added. As was "faux-hawk," a term describing a specific type of hairstyle.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles